Critical advice after government tribunal ruling

Stephen Elliot, Endeavour Partnership LLP For further info E:
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Stockton law firm, Endeavour Partnership, is advising businesses to update their staff procedures in light of recent news that fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims have been ruled unlawful, and the government will now have to repay up to £32m to claimants.

In one of the most significant rulings the employment sector has faced in many years, the Supreme Court has ruled that the fees that claimants have to pay in order to both start their claims and have them listed for hearing, are unlawful.

In 2013, the government introduced fees of up to £1,200 in an attempt to address the mounting costs of running the Employment Tribunal system, but that led to a 79% reduction in claims. Trade union Unison argued the fees prevented workers accessing justice.

Now, the Ministry of Justice said the government would take immediate steps to stop charging and to refund payments as the Supreme Court ruled the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees.

Endeavour Partnership, commercial legal experts based at Teesdale, are warning that there’s the chance that those people who chose not to bring a claim because of the fees order may now decide to due to the law changes.

Stephen Elliott, partner in Endeavour Partnership’s employment department, said: “The Supreme Court decision, while clearly rooted in valid concerns about access to justice, does once again raise for employers the spectre of ex-employees being able to bring weak or spurious cases on the basis that, now there are no fees to pay, they have “nothing to lose”.

“For businesses that are already facing up to the serious challenges caused by Brexit and the resulting economic uncertainty, this additional risk is most unwelcome.”

Endeavour Partnership has this advice for businesses:

• Speak to a specialist employment solicitor if it could be possible a claim may be brought

• Make sure all the correct procedures are in place for dealing with staff grievances and, where necessary, disciplinary procedures

• Ensure the business conforms with ACAS procedures and seeks appropriate legal advice if in doubt

Endeavour employs a team of 54 and has a reputation spanning over 16 years, providing high quality advice on a range of business law matters including mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, employment, commercial property and corporate recovery and insolvency from its headquarters at Teesdale in Stockton.

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